Learning to keep the fingers 'down'

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Fergie Fulton, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Fingers 'down', or finger 'on' are just terms for keeping them touching the strings, the fingers are not up and away from the strings so to speak.
    Because of the nature of playing bass, many self-taught players never get the required training in their hands because they focus in playing what the like, rather than being trained to play what is put in front of them in any eventuality.
    The main problem is the under-development of the Ulnar side of the hand, the Ring and Little in particular.
    I hear many complaints of the little finger having a mind of its own so to speak and i find this exercise addresses most of them.

    When any finger does this it is because the muscles, tendons, joints etc are tight..not relaxed.
    When one moves its neighbour gets involved because the attachments they share are tight.
    Some may have a deeper more involved attachment and so for them the problem is worse.
    But the good news is in both situations it can be relieved, reduced or eliminated depending on the hands history and use.

    The exercise in the link helps the extensors stretch against the flexors in use.
    The exercises are a frame work, so can be repeated up and down, backwards and forwards as many times as the player can manage, but i recommend no more than 10mins. in a session, see them as warm ups and stretches rather than musical exercises.

    Any questions this material raises drop me a PM or post here and i will try and help if i can.

  2. Synthax


    Nov 20, 2011
    SW PA
    I've had issues with this when I was just beginning . A simple move from sitting to standing helped me immensely. Not sure what changed when I stood up, but for some reason my flying fingers went away.
  3. neckdive

    neckdive Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    Thank you for taking the time to produce and post this video. I tried this last night since I find my pinky flying on occasion (not much but just enough that I know its not proper technique). I can also see how this should help in addition to helping with supportive fingering.

    This is going in my current practice routine. Thanks again, Fergie.
  4. mrb327

    mrb327 Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2013
    Thanks, Fergie
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  6. Fleebag

    Fleebag You ever see a stereo with a guitar knob? Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    60084 USA
    Good stuff Fergie! It will make a great compliment to similar exercise that I highly recommend also that has helped me a lot, it's from a book called "Stuff! Good Bass Players Should Know" by Glenn Letsch. It would take a lengthy explanation, if anyone's interested I'll find the time to post it.
  7. RayMan34


    Jan 3, 2014
    Thanks for the vid. I'll check it out.
  8. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    So I watched the video, and my first reaction was that the exercise looked so simple that it wasn't worth bothering with. Fortunately, my second reaction was to grab a bass and try it out to be sure, and it turned out to be pretty interesting. I did indeed find it very easy to play the four notes on the G string, in each case keeping "fingers down," and even the first two notes on the D string -- but it was a lot harder than I'd expected to play that third note on the D (with the ring finger) without lifting my pinky off the G string. I went ahead and continued the exercise for about 5 minutes, varying the number of beats per note (8, 4, 2, 1), until I started to feel some mild soreness in the back of my hand, on the pinky side.

    Am I correct in assuming that....

    1. ... this soreness is evidence that the exercise is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, and that I need to be doing it?

    2. ... I should stop when I start feeling the soreness?

    3. ... that after a few days or so of doing the exercise regularly, I'll stop feeling the soreness?


    4 ... that means that the exercise has served its purpose, and I'll be really glad I did it?
  9. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Hi glad you found it of use, please post the similar exercise if you get the time, i always like to read others points of views on such exercises.
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Hi, there should be no soreness that is pain, the soreness should be fatigue, so more tired than sore. This is why i say only do it for short periods.

    Yes stop when it feels sore, this is important to allow the muscles and joint time to recover. If you have pain do not continue. Un-fortunately with the web i cannot comment on the source, severity and type of pain you may have, but if you open and close your hands as fast as you can till you tire, the sensation should be the same.

    The muscles on the Ulnar side (your little and ring finger) are designed to work as a pair, so this exercise is just letting them work independent. So they are slowly being stretched, so they become looser to allow better independent movement.

    Yes the soreness will subside if it is fatigue, in the same way if you do anything physical for the first time, or you do not regularly do (for me it is golf these days) you will hurt the next day.

    The exercise has served its purpose once you gain more independence.
    There is a point where once you have reached a certain level of independence, continuing the exercise is pointless.

    You should find music and songs with bass lines that mirror the exercise movement to keep it in good working order....as i said let the music guide your level of development.

    Yes the exercise is innocuous, almost to simple, but those that will benefit from it will find it is not.
    Players that play genres that need this level of dexterity develop it through their playing of the music. But some genres do not offer it, so the exercise address this as a simple easy exercise to use.
  11. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Yes, "fatigue" is a better word for what I described as "soreness" -- I'm sure it isn't anything other than that.

    I'll be working on this exercise regularly for awhile, and looking for ways to incorporate the basic principles into my other practice routines. Thanks, Fergie!
  12. Burwabit

    Burwabit Likes guitars that tune good and firm feelin women Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2011
    Lubbock, TX
    I'll also say thanks for posting.
  13. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    If you think the exercise is difficult to maintain, practice it for the length of an average song you would play till you are comfortable with it.....so long as they are not prog rock 25 minute anthems. :)